The New York Times

Hollywood's Booming Comic Book Age

COMPUTER IMAGERY CAN NOW BRING EVEN THE MOST OUTLANDISH FANTASY IMAGES TO LIFE. BUT WHAT ARE THESE MOVIES REALLY ABOUT?

Seven of the 11 top-grossing films of 2017 were superhero movies, based on characters first introduced in comic books.

The top two grossing films so far this year have been “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” “Deadpool 2” is in theaters, and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” opens this week. None of these are minor productions.

We are living in Hollywood’s Comic Book Age. A global obsession, superhero movies are seen by hundreds of millions, arguably the most consumed stories in human history.

Films reflect the tastes and values of the period in which they are made. We can trace the changing status of women, evolving ideas about masculinity, war, crime, journalism, the C.I.A. or anything else by Hollywood treatments over the decades. So when historians look back at this glut of superhero flicks, what will they say about us? What are they about?

There is no rule, of course, that says films have to be anything. One way of looking at comic book movies is to see them simply as mental popcorn, meant to be rapidly consumed and forgotten — this may be precisely why so many people love them. They are harmless. Armies of Hollywood professionals get paid, megamillions enjoy them and nobody gets hurt. Even snooty critics have fun inventing clever ways to slam them.

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